The use of a cell phone in a construction zone or a school zone is prohibited in Illinois. The state also bans texting and emailing while driving, due to the connection between those distractions and car accidents. Illinois legislators are now considering another restriction designed to prevent accidents caused by cell phone use. New legislation would prevent drivers from using their cell phones to make calls, take pictures or take videos within 500 feet of an emergency site. The bill makes an exception for drivers calling 911 to report an emergency.
The bill is a response to the growing phenomenon of drivers taking videos and pictures of crash scenes as they drive by. Accident victims, emergency personnel, other motorists and pedestrians on the scene are endangered by drivers who are distracted by their cell phones as they go past accidents. While the need for timely evidence collection at a crash scene is legitimate, it cannot be safely accomplished by someone who should be focused on driving.
The wording of the bill has led some to question whether it will serve as a complete ban on taking pictures or videos while driving, as opposed to only when within 500 feet of an emergency vehicle with its lights on. The sponsor of the bill claims that was not his intention. At the same time, the House did pass a ban of all cell phone use by drivers, unless they use a hands-free device.
Legislators all over the country are taking steps to address the proliferation of cell phones and the dangers that poses for drivers everywhere. Distracted driving is a hot button issue and this will almost certainly not be the last law to address the use of electronic devices by people behind the wheel.
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Source: Coshocton Tribune, “IL may restrict drivers’ phone use near accidents ,” by Shannon Mcfarland, 9 March 2012